BRAND ON THE RUN: There’s apparently dissension among the ranks of the owners of J Brand — which include Star Avenue Capital, chief executive officer Jeff Rudes and Coach ceo Lew Frankfort — about whether the time is right to sell the company. The premium denim firm, which has made a successful entrance into sportswear in the past year, is on the verge of embarking on a retail strategy that could accelerate its already double-digit compound growth rate and elevate its sales of more than $100 million.
While the principals ponder whether to sell, interest among potential strategic buyers is said to be keen. In addition to PVH Corp. and VF Corp., both with the will and the wallet to make a purchase, Warnaco Group Inc. has emerged as an interested party as it sits on nearly $300 million in cash and cash equivalents and nurses its struggling jeans and underwear businesses under the Calvin Klein brand.
Whether or not a deal could be struck, observers familiar with the two companies feel it makes sense. The Calvin Klein jeans business is decidedly more mainstream than J Brand’s upscale denim offering and the sportswear collection would give Warnaco access to a growth avenue that closed when PVH took back the license for the European Calvin Klein bridge business from Warnaco earlier this year.
Warnaco and Rudes declined comment.